Let?s try to stop whining about growth and the need for investments and employment for a moment in order to applaud the good things that do happen in this country, which do create jobs, generate growth and bring money to Greece.
On Wednesday, plans were unveiled for a wonderful design by Renzo Piano and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation that will result in a new home for the National Library and Greek National Opera as well as a park in the Faliro Delta area. This is a massive investment worth some half-a-billion euros that will radically transform the coastal zone of Athens, so violated by construction work for the 2004 Olympic Games and years of neglect and illegal construction.
We should not, however, forget the trials and tribulations this project suffered to get this far, the endless rubbish that was said and written about ?public space? in an effort to undermine it. One local mayor did not want it because he was hoping to get his own hands on the entire plot, obviously because he wanted to keep it in the same sorry state that most similar municipally owned properties are. Like-minded Greek architects complained because the design was not assigned to a Greek and because its is wrong to allow ?capitalist institutions? to be involved in the management of publicly owned land. Everyone who had a personal stake in the property fought it, just as they will fight any developments at the former airport in Elliniko or anything else that?s new. The park will go ahead, nevertheless, because this was one of the few projects that the former premier, Costas Karamanlis, took seriously.
I was impressed that some friends yesterday tweeted about the plans, praising them. They received a barrage of demeaning comments, the most common of which was ?Is that all you could think about today of all days??
Yes, this is the kind of news that is good to think about and comment on, and there should be more of it if we can ever hope that the country will go forward. We need vision and passion for ambitious plans that may even generate some money (zounds!) for private investors. We need to recondition the cynical Greek within us who is suspicious of everything unwilling to move ahead.
For this to happen though, the large, creative majority needs to fight and liberate itself from the bonds of petty politics and self-centered mayors, from the barking dogs of denial and all the others who would rather have seen the Faliro Delta a garbage dump in 2015 instead of a wonderful new facility that will bring jobs, growth and, finally, some beauty.